The Halloween season brings with it all manner of ghastly ghouls and creepy goblins, but none of them compare to the host of scary mistakes you can make in your job search. Bad resume layouts and misspellings that make you look careless. Foolish comments during interviews that torpedo your candidacy. Ridiculous questions that throw you off your game. Even the wrong choice of wardrobe can turn a solid chance at a new opportunity into a bloodcurdling (or at least highly unfortunate) trip back to the job hunt drawing board.
Fear not, however. Here are some of the more egregious mistakes to look out for in the realm of resume and interview management, so you might avoid a terrifyingly long period of unemployment:
Hair-raising Resume Blunders
Everybody knows it’s bad to have misspelled words and grammatical errors in your resume, and yet it happens all the time. The fact is, if you stare at your own resume long enough your ability to pick out mistakes degrades, and the next thing you know you’ve left a crucial “l” out of the phrase “public relations.” So have someone else, preferably an English major or at least a person with a good eye for editing, read it as well. And of course, use a spell check tool.
The length of your resume is something else to keep in mind. Most job search professionals recommend no more than two pages, and that’s only for more experienced candidates. Look for ways to be efficient and concise. On the other hand, don’t turn in a resume with too much white space. If you’re, say, a recent graduate, consider filling in with particularly relevant classwork, volunteer experience, or any other related skills you may have picked up in school.
Frightful red flags
There are some bits of information that every resume should have, but not everything needs to be included. Don’t volunteer information that is going to immediately steer your resume into the “no” pile. Left a previous job because of a bad relationship with your boss? Probably not a good idea to include that here. The interview is where you can add context, not the resume.
Eerie Interview Errors
Maybe you’ve been on the job hunt for a while. Or maybe you’ve got some expenses coming up and you’re starting to get nervous. Whatever might be happening in the background, don’t make it part of your interview. You don’t want to seem like you’d take any job you can get. Companies want to hire people who are on a path, and who are going for what they want. Also, you potentially ruin your bargaining position later if they do decide to hire you. On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t be overconfident. It’s fine to ask about the role and get more information from your interviewers. You’re interviewing them as well, after all. But don’t act like they’d be lucky to have you (even if they would be). Modest, yet poised and self-aware is what you want to project.
When it comes to interviews, lateness is simply unacceptable. In fact, the preference is to get there early. If you arrive 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin, you’re on time. It’s not desperate, it just shows you’ve prioritized the opportunity and the time of your interviewers.
Ghosting on questions
Speaking of interviewing your interviewer, you absolutely must have questions for them when you walk into the room. Drawing a blank when you are inevitably asked “got any questions for me?” is a quick way to disqualify yourself. Prepare what you want to ask in advance. Also, if possible, find out the titles (and names of course) of the people on your loop. You might be able to tailor your questions to the specific areas of expertise for each of your interviewers, which will help you learn more about the job and also make you look that much more prepared.
Chances are, you’re going to get asked a bad question. “Tell me about yourself” and “what’s your biggest weakness” are a couple of the more well-known examples. You may as well prepare a few answers for them in advance, so you’ll be prepared. Go online and research some of the more common questions (good and bad) so you can have some go-to material at the ready. You may even encounter queries that are being asked intentionally to try and throw you off. Trader Joe’s apparently once asked a candidate what they thought of garden gnomes. When faced with a crazy question, use the prep you did in advance, and don’t let them see you sweat.
Whatever frightening turns the hiring process may take – remember you can always reach out to your WideNet recruiter for help. Whether it be interview prep or resume advice, we know our clients and what they’re looking for.